By CHRIS AGEE
A countywide burn ban is back in effect after Palo Pinto County Commissioners voted to provisionally lift it last week.
At that time, commissioners cited heavy rainfall in previous days for their decision and decided to revisit the issue this week.
The reprieve expired Tuesday morning at which time County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell presented his recommendation the ban be reinstated.
Though not at a critical level, he explained the Keetch-Byram Drought Index has risen to the 500 range and noted there is plenty of potential fuel for uncontrolled fires.
“Everything is dead and dry,” he told commissioners.
Harwell said he responded to four weekend fires, noting they were mostly minor. One controlled burn in The Hills at Possum Kingdom scorched four acres of land, he added.
He said members of several county agencies requested the burn ban be reinstated.
Harwell himself described fire conditions as “a double-edged sword” immediately after more than 2 inches of rain fell across much of the county.
Though precipitation is a major factor, he said “the fuel is dead and on the ground.”
Should the county receive significant rainfall in the intervening days, Harwell said the issue will be readdressed at the regular commissioners court meeting set for Monday morning.
“If we get more rain by next commissioners court or the one after, we can discuss it then,” he said.